“a consumer reports for the cheap” — the new york times
In this review:
  1. Best Cheap Irons
  2. Cheap Steam Irons, Cordless Irons
  3. Steam Iron Reviews, Iron Reviews
  4. Best Irons, Best Steam Irons
  5. Discount Irons Features Comparison Table

Cheap Irons Buying Guide

Most any clothes iron, whether cheap or pricey, will meet the needs of anyone who irons once in a while. And with the rise of casual work-wear and synthetic fibers, who really needs an iron anymore? But if iron you must -- for sewers and quilters, an iron is mandatory, as it is for folks who wear mostly cotton -- experts say there's no longer any reason to pay a premium for a gratifying ironing experience.

Related Guides:
Bras, Kids Clothes, Maternity Clothes, Outlet Shopping vs. Retail, Sewing Machines and Washing Machines
In other words, the best cheap clothes irons often perform at least as well as models costing $100 and more.

Our research into the best cheap clothes irons set the price ceiling at $40 and turned up several models that are feature-rich, easy to use, and leave your clothing wrinkle-free. Our picks for best cheap clothes iron are the T-Fal Ultraglide Easycord FV4379 (starting at $40) and the Black & Decker F67E Classic (starting at $25) -- the former because it heats up quickly, has lots of holes for lots of steam, and boasts a large water tank; the latter because it's a no-frills model just like mom's that gets really hot and gets the job done. As runners-up we like the T-Fal Prima FV3056 (starting at $25) and Panasonic NI-S300TR (starting at $23) for their overall value and plentiful steam output. Two cheap irons that don't make the grade are the Smartek Cord/Cordless ST2000 (starting at $29), which is hard to dock in its base and loses heat rapidly in cordless mode, and the Shark Professional Rapido G1468 (starting at $30), which seems plagued by a variety of build quality problems.

As ironers surely know, the most critical features in an iron are the production of heat and steam and the size of the water tank. To make a lot of steam, you need a lot of heat. On the whole, higher-priced irons heat up faster, reach the very high temperatures (about 400 degrees) needed to iron wrinkles out of cotton, and have more holes through which steam emerges. Upscale models usually have 1500-1700 watts of power, compared to the 1200 or so common among cheap irons. Heat matters because if it's too low, there's a higher possibility of leakage, the bane of every ironer because leaking water can stain fabric. Large quantities of steam come from large quantities of water, so if you want lots of steam, it helps if the water tank is big, easy to refill, and easy to gauge the water level. More important than anything else, though, is the ease with which an iron does its job - the better it works, the less muscle power you'll exert. This is partly dependent on the weight of the iron. If it's heavy enough, it will press out wrinkles, but an iron that's too heavy is uncomfortable to use for any length of time.

Review continues below

The basic features found on cheap irons are more or less standard across models. In fact, the better budget irons now incorporate many features once reserved for upscale irons. For example, most cheap irons have a "burst of steam" that quickly sets creases and can be used a vertical steamer. They typically provide some sort of guide indicating the heat and steam required for various fabrics. The soleplate (the bottom of the iron) is almost always described as "non-stick" regardless of its composition -- often stainless steel, although aluminum, ceramic, titanium, and Teflon also make their appearance on inexpensive irons. Automatic shut-off is found all through the price spectrum. Some cheap irons feature a retractable cord and the occasional cordless iron shows up at the low-price end of the market. Most steam irons take ordinary tap water (except if you live in an area with extremely hard water, in which case you should use distilled water), and some feature a self-cleaning setting that flushes out any build-up.

The cheap irons universe is dominated by T-Fal, Black & Decker, Panasonic, Sunbeam, and Hamilton Beach. Each of these brands offers a range of products with varied features, although sometimes it's hard to discern the difference between models from the same manufacturer. When you start shopping for a cheap iron, bear in mind your ironing profile; that is, the type of fabrics you iron most frequently. For example, you'll need a heavier iron with more heat and more steam if you work with a lot of denim rather than synthetic fabrics. If you iron a lot of clothing at once, you'll want a water tank that holds more than a cup; tank size won't matter so much if you only iron one or two items at a time.

by Elizabeth Sheer (Google+ Profile)

Back to top »

Best Cheap Steam Irons

T-Fal Ultraglide Easycord FV4379
Gold Medal

T-Fal Ultraglide Easycord FV4379

The manufacturer of non-stick cookware has applied its know-how to irons, and many say this inexpensive model rivals those costing three times as much. It puts out lots of steam and heat and boasts a ceramic soleplate; a retractable cord and large water tank add to its appeal.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Black & Decker F67E Classic
Gold Medal

Black & Decker F67E Classic

This is a no-frills, basic iron with a retro look and plenty of heft -- just the qualities that attract its many admirers, who attest to its smooth and easy pressing performance.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »

Good Cheap Steam Irons

T-Fal Prima FV3056
Gold Medal

T-Fal Prima FV3056

The T-Fal Prima FV3056 is a good, functional iron with desirable features, such as a large water tank and steam surge. Users like its heat, steam, and balanced weight.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Panasonic NIS-300TR
Gold Medal

Panasonic NIS-300TR

With the cordless option, you can maneuver around anything while you're ironing, and the detachable water tank adds to the convenience. But users aren't sold, noting the heat doesn't hold up in cordless mode and the docking mechanism is troublesome.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
 

Don't Bother

Smartek ST2000 Cord/Cordless

With the cordless option, you can maneuver around anything while you're ironing, and the detachable water tank adds to the convenience. But users aren't sold, noting the heat doesn't hold up in cordless mode and the docking mechanism is troublesome.

Read more »

Shark Professional Rapido G1468

With lots of power and so-called intelligent controls, this iron makes a great first impression. But user reports of leaks and assorted build quality problems cast a pall on the original glow.

Read more »

Cheapism.com on Facebook
 
Is Raising Chickens Cheaper Than Buying Eggs?

Raising chickens at home comes with upfront costs but eventually helps your food budget.

10 Germ Magnets That Need Spring Cleaning

Ten items that belong on your spring-cleaning list, including the dishwasher and cell phone, harbor nasty germs.

Where to Find Selfie-Worthy Prom Attire on a Budget

These online and brick-and-mortar sources carry prom dresses and gowns and tuxedos for less than $150.